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Follow Claxton’s Chipping to Hit Short Shots Accurately From the Rough

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Paul Claxton is no stranger to major professional competition. The winner of the 2021 Senior PGA Professional Championship started on fire today in the first round of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. With birdies on his first three holes, the PGA Life Member from Claxton, Georgia was off and running with a front nine 32. His back nine was just as impressive closing with 33 for a Round 1 65 trailing 1-stroke behind the leaders over an impressive field.
Claxton had an incredible round with a host of highlights. From a PGA Coaching perspective, the one shot that caught my eye was his chip-in birdie on the seventh hole. He was above the hole with a short and very fast route to the pin. Just barely off the green, he was too far to putt his way on. For some, this is the scariest shot in golf and that’s why I can’t wait to explain Paul’s perfect technique.

Hitting this shot is not as a hard as it looks. By following a couple simple steps, you will be able to swing confidently like Claxton.
  • Start by mirroring Paul’s setup. Notice how he has opened the face of the club and his stance. To accomplish this start by lining up square as if you are taking a normal shot. Your body should be parallel to the target line and the clubface should be pointing directly at your target. Once you set that foundation, now turn the toe (end) of the club away from the target. This adds loft to the club. The more you turn it, the more loft you add.
  • Now, the next step is very important. You must then open your stance by pulling your lead foot away from the target line. Keep doing this, until the grooves on your clubface are pointing toward the target.
  • Second, he selected the club in his bag that has the highest amount of loft. Short shots like this require us to get the ball up very quickly and back on the ground just as fast. A 60-degree wedge is your best friend in this case. If you don’t own a lob wedge, I suggest investing in one. They are like magic wands when we want to get out of trouble.
  • Now pick a landing spot. It may be right in front of you. It doesn’t matter where; it only matters that you have one and focus on it.
  • Start your backswing by taking the club back outside of your target line. This exposes
    the bottom or bounce of the club. If you take it back to the inside of the target line, we
    deloft the club and hit rockets out of the rough.
  • The downswing is simple, accelerate toward the ground. Most amateurs make the mistake of slowing down heading into the rough. There’s so much grass there, you need speed to get through. Keep that club moving. Pretend it is a race and you’re trying to get that clubhead to the target before the ball. Let it pass right beneath and keep going!
The last step needed to complete Claxton’s shot is the most fun. Be prepared to chip-in. Have a signature saying or move ready. One thing is for sure, if you practice Paul’s move you will be putting that ball in the hole.
The KitchenAid Senior Championship will continue to be televised Friday on the Golf
Channel and Saturday and Sunday on the Golf Channel and NBC. For the most complete
coverage, go to SrPGA.com.
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